On the 3rd of May Sputnik published a report exposing potential U.S plans to stage another ‘chemical weapon’ provocation in Syria. Preparations allegedly began on April 23rd to ship civilians to “to a territory near Jafra oil field to participate in a staged filming of an attack scene”
“US security services are planning provocations with the use of prohibited substances in Syria. The operation is led by a former militant of the Islamic State *[Daesh], Mishan Idris Hamash. The aim is to stage a chemical attack against civilians to be further spread in the media,” the source told Sputnik.
Yes, this is a report from an anonymous source and has been belittled by the mainstream media in the West whose knee jerk reaction to any information issued by a Russian media outlet is outright denigration and ridicule. However the subsequent sequence of statements issued in relation to an alleged funding “freeze” for the U.S/UK White Helmet intelligence assets operating under their “regime change” coalition rules in Syria is worth remarking upon.
Among the first to publish the “U.S freezes funding for Syria’s White Helmets” story was CBS News, describing the terrorist affiliated group as “one of the most important humanitarian rescue groups in Syria”. There was then a flurry of activity in corporate media and on social media with anti-war activists and journalists celebrating what appeared to be a change of heart from the Trump administration.
We should not, however, forget that on the 19th April US State Department spokesperson, Heather Nauert had issued reassurances that wages would continue be paid to the White Helmets while the funding of the Syria stabilisation program was under “review”.
“We recognise and appreciate and are very grateful for all the work the White Helmets continue to do on behalf of the people of their country and on behalf of the U.S government (and) all the coalition forces […] I just exchanged emails with them the other day, my understanding is that their work is still going on and we’re proud to work with them […] as far as I am aware all of their work still continues, peoples bills are still being paid […] as far as I know (all U.S. contributions) are still in play”
As the U.S government has always denied significant own “boots on the ground” in Syria, we have to assume that the “coalition forces” will include the multitude of U.S alliance-armed, financed & promoted terrorist and extremist factions, including Al Qaeda and a number of splinter groups or rebrands that have their origins in Nusra Front.
Nauert is also blatant about the fact that the White Helmets who receive an estimated one third of their funding from the U.S are effectively working for the U.S government in Syria. The U.S objective in Syria is the overthrow of the Syrian government and the carving up of Syria along sectarian lines. Therefore it is logical to assume that the White Helmets are aiding the U.S government to achieve these aims and have been handsomely bankrolled for their efforts.
Raed Saleh is leader of the White Helmets. He was deported from Dulles Airport in April 2016, ostensibly for his “extremist connections” as suggested by former U.S State Department spokesperson, Mark Toner. Saleh has connections within the White Helmets to Mustafa Al Haj Yussef, a White Helmet “manager” in Khan Sheikhoun, who has demonstrated clear allegiance to extremist and terrorist groups on his own social media accounts. Saleh has a history of lobbying for No Fly Zones and increased proxy military intervention from the U.S/UK ‘regime change’ coalition. Activity which violates the fundamental ethics of an alleged “humanitarian” first response organisation under any circumstances.
The 2018 McCain Institute “Award for Courage and Leadership” was given to the White Helmets. Raed Saleh was in Arizona, April 20-22, to receive the award at the by-invitation-only Sedona Forum. By Saleh’s side was Syria Campaign’s Kenan Rahmani acting as translator and PR agent. Coming almost immediately after the heaping of praise upon the group by Nauert, the McCain stamp of approval is further evidence of the overt ties between the U.S state and their most useful intelligence operatives on the ground in Syria.
At 2018 Sedona Forum, the McCain Institute presented its annual Award for Courage and Leadership to @SyriaCivilDef for their heroic, brave work conducting volunteer search & rescue missions in Syria. https://t.co/JnPXZVtTsN pic.twitter.com/zUGniWQbVw
— McCain Institute (@McCainInstitute) April 30, 2018
Sticking religiously to the Syria Campaign script, the McCain Institute described the White Helmets in the now familiar glowing terms. “Volunteers come from all walks of life: bakers, tailors, engineers, pharmacists, painters, carpenters, students and more. The organization is neutral, unaffiliated with any political party or group.” while clearly holding a unique position among the rank and file of the neocon elite in the United States. A run through the speaker list reads like a roll call of deep state, military and political movers and shakers who have a shared history of destructive interventionist campaigns spanning the globe.
The McCain institute is funded by an impressive array of Saudi and Zionist benefactors and foundations, many of whom also fund the Clinton Foundation. McCain is chairman of the International Republican Institute one of the various organisations operating under the umbrella of the National Endowment of Democracy, a CIA outreach organisation that has played a pivotal role in fomenting insurgencies in the Middle East (and elsewhere) under the banner of the “Arab Spring”. Very early on the IRI hands were at the tiller of the Syrian “revolution” and financing the armed “moderates”.
This inclusion among the most powerful of regime change mafia dons confirms the White Helmets place firmly at the centre of U.S. intelligence plans to destabilise Syria.
On the 4th of May VICE News had already started to back pedal from the initial sensationalist claims of a “funding freeze”:
“The U.S. jointly supports the White Helmets with other donors, and we expect their operations to continue as a result of additional multilateral donations,” a State Department spokesperson told VICE News in an email.”
On the 5th of May, Asaad Hanna, a “Syrian civil society and Human rights activist” tweeted out a series of statements that appear to have been issued by Raed Saleh, Chairman of the White Helmets:
Clarification by @SyriaCivilDef regarding the news about the suspension of the US support
The Syrian Civil Defense would like to reiterate that it doesn’t receive any direct funding from the US or any other country. It receives funds from organizations and associations. pic.twitter.com/emRdjw0Yev
— Asaad Hanna (@AsaadHannaa) May 4, 2018
On the contrary, it is obvious that the White Helmets do receive direct funding from the UK, the U.S, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Qatar and New Zealand according to their regularly updated Wikipedia page. It is true that some of their government funding is diverted through a number of government approved intermediaries such as Mayday Rescue which was established in the Netherlands by James Le Mesurier in 2014, one year after he had formed the White Helmets in Istanbul and Jordan. Mayday Rescue funnels funds from the UK FCO Conflict Stability and Security Fund into the White Helmets.
The White Helmets are not the recognised Syria Civil Defence, that honour belongs only to the REAL Syria Civil Defence.
Asaad Hanna’s twitter thread goes on to explain that the White Helmets (SCD) have not been informed of any “funding freeze”. He then relays the information that the White Helmets have recently signed contracts with Turkish and Qatari organisations to carry out new projects, one assumes inside Syria. These projects are still to be announced by Raed Saleh.
It is worth noting that @SyriaCivilDef do not appear to have made an equivalent public statement on Twitter yet.
A look at Raed Saleh’s Twitter page reveals that one of those contracts may be with Turkish organisation, AFAD, a disaster and emergency response outfit based in Ankara. This was announced on the 26th April, days after Saleh’s attendance at the McCain Institute in Arizona.
In order to enhance joint cooperation,an agreement was signed for coordination and cooperation to implement a projects in Syrian, that came in a meeting between the director of Syria Civil Defense @RaedAlSaleh3 and Mr @HamzaTasdelen the Deputy Director of @AFADBaskanlik pic.twitter.com/WGadbAofV2
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) April 26, 2018
If Hanna is correct, the White Helmets, an alleged NGO, is accepting contracts from Qatar and Turkey to operate inside Syria. Two of the countries most implicated in the incubation and financing of the extremist and terrorist factions affiliated to the White Helmets, namely Al Qaeda and offshoots, armed groups that are responsible for the seven year bloodshed inside Syria.
The hostile-state-funded White Helmets are striking deals with terrorist producing states to work inside Syria in terrorist controlled regions, obviously without the knowledge or approval of the internationally recognised Syrian government in Damascus. This is shadow-state-craft at its most flagrant and egregious.
Were these projects established or supported by the McCain Institute and discussed at the Sedona Forum? Are the Qatari and Turkish contracts a part of a deal to secure plausible deniability for the U.S in the case of another bungled chemical attack staged by the White Helmets in the future?
Questions should be asked by U.S, UK taxpayers. What are the nature of these contracts and their terms? What do the projects entail? Will these contracts replace existing U.S funding for the White Helmets? The White Helmets are publicly financed in more ways than one yet they are acting like an autonomous for-profit company that has the right to choose its partners, even if those partners are based in countries whose terrorist supporting foreign policy in Syria must surely not be approved by the public in western donor countries.
It is perhaps time that we, the public, took ownership of the White Helmets and demanded answers from this organisation that has been so skillfully protected by our governments, their aligned media PR agencies and group-think tanks.
Whatever the outcome, it is increasingly clear that the U.S funding freeze for the White Helmets may well prove to be another in a long line of Trump administration myths that included the withdrawl from an illegal occupation of 30% of Syrian territory statement which was made just prior to the latest White Helmet “chemical attack” production in Douma, Eastern Ghouta which led to the unlawful strikes against Syria by the tripartite alliance of U.S, UK and France with Israel in a pre-strike surveillance role.
The Ababil #Houran #Syrian #opposition militia based in #southern #Syria recently captured members of a pro-Syrian govt #resistance cell in #Daraa, and is charging them with the ‘crime’ of resistance against #Israeli occupation forces. pic.twitter.com/LEE4sqKPOh
— فراس الشوفي Firas Al Shoufi (@firasshoufi) May 4, 2018
So while we may see a reduction of the White Helmet operating areas down to Turkish influenced Idlib, Zionist influenced Daraa and U.S occupied North Eastern Syrian territories, the White Helmet construct has not been dismantled yet and one way or another it will live to fight another day on behalf of it’s imperialist backers in the West.
By Vanessa Beeley
Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team.